Lack of Security Online as a Barrier to Access

The digital divide explains the gap in access to technology between the developed and developing worlds. While there are many barriers that contribute to this divide, a less mentioned factor is the lack of security many feel on the Internet and on their own computers. Being able to safely navigate the web, avoiding phishing scams, viruses and fraudulent sites requires a decent amount of skill and experience. The security features that make routine tasks, like browsing the web and sending e-mails, are complex and not easily navigable, which can be very overwhelming (Bridging the Digital Divide).

 A study completed in Uganda, surveyed respondents’ perception on barriers to computer and Internet usage.  55% of the people surveyed noted that lack of security online factors into their ability to access the Internet.  The upkeep involved in maintaining security requires consistent personnel and if there is not someone available to maintain the features protecting the computers.  Beyond the psychological factors contributing to the lack of security people experience online, is the physical detriment it can cause to the technologies. The consequences of not maintaining security can cause a major inconvenience. For example, farmers using Internet access to monitor weather patterns may run into a problem if the anti-virus software hadn’t been updated, and they were in need of information regarding an upcoming storm. If they were unable to access the information, it could devastate their crops, and thus disrupt their income for that period of time.  It is evident that the complex measures needed to maintain security are a barrier to access and individual’s lack of comfort with Internet safety in general contribute to the continuation of the digital divide.


One response to “Lack of Security Online as a Barrier to Access

  • hrenda

    I never thought about how much of a problem lack of security could be for ICT use in developing countries. I suppose I take for granted how much of a difference security can make, even for things like accessing my bank account, paying bills, and even online shopping. I studied abroad in Ghana, and I learned that you can’t buy things online and have them shipped there. Among other reasons, this is in part due to high levels of credit card fraud in Ghana’s cyberspace. At the time I didn’t view it as much more than a minor inconvenience, but now that I’m thinking about it again, lacking security features poses a huge obstacle in using ICTs to their full potential.

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